ONE of the region's most beloved events has become the latest victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The annual Bingara Happy Days Orange Festival has been cancelled, due to restrictions surrounding public gatherings.
Originally scheduled for July 3-5, the event was set to host a variety of acts including a classic car show, live music and the annual orange picking event.
The event's organisers took to social media to announce the decision, saying they held off from cancelling for as long as possible in hopes of a "miraculous resolution" to the pandemic.
"Due to restrictions in place regarding COVID-19, it is with great sadness that the organisers of the 2020 Bingara Happy Days Orange Festival have made the tough call to postpone the festival to 2021," the post read.
"Organisers understand how important the event is for the Bingara community, retailers and businesses, as well as the stall holders, suppliers and performers who partake in the festival; and for this reason have held off making the decision in hopes of a miraculous resolution to the COVID-19 situation.
"Following announcements in Friday's Cabinet meeting, it became apparent that restrictions would not ease enough to allow for such an event."
Gwydir shire mayor John Coulton said cancelling the event was unavoidable.
"It's in line with everything else and in line with the rules," Cr Coulton said.
"I was urging them to cancel it earlier than they did, but the stall holders got enough notice, which is the important thing.
"Everyone is taking a hit and we have to take one too."
In recent weeks, Bingara's orange trees, which act as a remembrance for the region's veterans, have been steadily filling awaiting picking during the festival.
However, Cr Coulton said the community's "orange police" would still harvest the fruit.
"It is a wonderful thing to have all of these orange trees along Memorial Grove," he said.
"On the last day of school, the students pick them and up until that point, they act as the orange police, making sure no one picks them before the festival.
"This year, they will still be picking the oranges and delivering them to people right around the community, which I think is great."
Organisers have already begun planning for next year's event, which is slated for June 25-27, 2021.
"I think we will be able to maintain the sponsorship through for another year," Cr Coulton said.
"On the Saturday of last year's festival, we had thousands of people turn up and I wouldn't be surprised if next year surpasses that because people will be so keen to get out.
"In the meantime, we are really focused on putting a lot of effort into the annual Christmas Carnival, just as long as things get back to normal."